Brooke talks insurance changes

WELLSBURG – Employee insurance coverage was a recurring issue at Tuesday’s Brooke County Commission meeting.

Bob Tschappat Jr., a representative of the Health Plan, which provides health care coverage for the county’s full-time employees, said he will be available to discuss changes dictated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi asked if the county will be required to provide coverage for part-time employees.

Tschappat said under the law, employers with 50 or more employees working 30 hours or more a week will be required to provide coverage or pay a tax. He noted the difference between the cost of the tax and the coverage will depend on the number of part-time employees.

Bob Babinchak, vice president of employee benefits for WesBanco Insurance Services, which also serves the county, said some provisions of the law may benefit the county and he also is available to discuss that.

Tschappat said the commission has helped to make working for the county attractive to its employees by covering 100 percent of their insurance premiums.

Citing rising coverage costs, the commission in July moved to require all new employees and newly elected officials as of July 1 to contribute 20 percent of their health coverage. The move was intended to introduce employee contributions without penalizing long-time employees.

In related business, County Clerk Sylvia Benzo said county employees subscribing to up to 10 supplemental insurance providers have arranged for their payments to be deducted from their paychecks.

Benzo said the situation creates additional bookkeeping for her staff and doesn’t result in a cost reduction for the employees. She asked the commission to consider stopping the payroll deductions and having the staff make the payments directly.

The commission agreed to consider it at a future meeting.

In other business:

The commission adopted a resolution recognizing the 140th anniversary of the March 4, 1872, American Lightweight Boxing Championship fight held at Colliers Station, now known as Colliers, in supports of Wellsburg resident Michael Traubert’s efforts to have the event recognized by the Bareknuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in Belfast, N.Y.

A fan and historian of old-time boxing, Traubert said the fight was among many fights held in Brooke County in the early days of the sport, when it was illegal in many places. He presented photos of boxers who fought in local bouts that will be available at the Brooke County Museum and suggested a sign could be posted in Colliers to acknowledge its role in the sport’s development.

The commission agreed to have the state take from future video lottery casino payments to the county $22,000 the state had overpaid it in video lottery funds.

Benzo said the state inadvertently shared with Brooke County revenue it had collected from a Three Springs Drive, Weirton, casino that actually is in Hancock County and another outside Brooke County that was owned by a former Brooke County business. She said the county had the option of repaying the state the amount or having it taken from future payments of the funds.

The county normally receives about $15,800 per month in video lottery revenue collected and returned by the state.

The commissioners announced it will move next week’s meeting from Tuesday to Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the courthouse so they and Benzo may attend various other meetings.

Les McGowan, president of the county building commission, said there are two vacant seats on the board. The group assists the commission in pursuing building projects and the funds needed for them and meets at 5 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the county courthouse.

Letters of interest should be submitted to the county clerk’s office there.